"When you make an error like that, one that determines the outcome of a game, you feel like you let the team down," Carlin said before Monday's game against Cincinnati. "But after talking to our coaches and [pitcher] Greg [Maddux], they were pretty responsive in a good way. They said to learn from it."
Carlin's error came with one out in the ninth inning with Albert Pujols on first base in a tie game. With the pitcher at the plate showing bunt, Carlin threw to first base in hopes of picking off Pujols, who had taken a big lead.
But the ball sailed past second baseman Edgar Gonzalez, who was covering first base at the time in case of a bunt, and rolled into right field. Pujols went to third base and later scored on Aaron Miles' game-winning grand slam.
Carlin's play on Sunday is just a part of the growing pains players with limited experience in the Major Leagues go through. The Padres have several position players on the roster who are low on Major League service time.
Carlin, catcher Nick Hundley, second baseman Edgar Gonzalez and outfielder Chase Headley are rookie position players. Several other players, like first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Jody Gerut and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, have less than four years of Major League service time.
Knowing this, Padres manager Bud Black realizes there will be times -- like Sunday -- when that much youth and inexperience at this level will be evident.
"There's a learning curve with how to get things done at this level. There is a difference between the Majors and Minors in how to win a ballgame," Black said. "These guys are learning how to do that. Sometimes it's at the expense of some hard knocks. But they'll be better off for it if they can hold their head up and fight through this. Luke Carlin will be better off for what happened yesterday."
But players like Carlin and Headley don't want their inexperience to be a crutch. They feel that the plays they made in the Minor Leagues should be the ones they make at the Major League level. But they've found that's often easier said than done.
"From having played in the Minor Leagues, we know how to play the game ... and we expect to play the game the right way here," Headley said. "But you know that mistakes are going to happen, and they're probably going to happen more to the younger guys than the older guys. But I don't look at it as an excuse. When you make mistakes, you try and learn from them and never make them again. But I don't think it's acceptable, [just because] we are young, that we make mistakes."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.